The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Peter Stein
Staff Writer 

Phipps: Weekend busy, but fun


June 13, 2018

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories about local athletes who participated in multiple North-South All-Star Games last week.

If you’ve ever seen Nathan Phipps scrapping for rebounds in gyms across eastern New Mexico or belting no-doubt homers everywhere from bucolic Texico Field to professional Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, you probably understand.

You’d know why Nathan Phipps — who graduated last month from Texico High School after helping the Wolverines capture three consecutive state baseball titles — is a double-threat athlete and why he was honored as such with invites to all-star competitions in each sport last weekend.

Phipps competed in three 1-4A all-star events in Albuquerque — a home run derby, three baseball games and a basketball game — allowing him to display his array of talents in one crazy weekend.

“It was one of the most fun weekends of my life,” Phipps said. “I wish I could do it again, honestly, it was that much fun. It was a great way to finish my high school career. Pretty perfect bow.”

A bow for a Texico career that made its imprint on both sports at the school. Ty Thatcher, Phipps’ Texico coach for both, has a pretty good idea what made Phipps a success.

“Nathan is a competitor with confidence in his ability,” Thatcher said, “confidence that he has gained through experience and hard work.”

It was a busy weekend for the ex-Wolverine, who competed in the five events over just a two-day span. He had the home run derby and a baseball game on Friday, then two more baseball games and the basketball game on Saturday.

“I was pretty tired,” Phipps said. “Pretty tired.”

Phipps represented the South all-star team for both the home run derby and baseball games, held at the University of New Mexico’s Santa Ana Star Field. In the derby, four players each were selected for the North and South. The top two home-run hitters made the final round. There were 10 outs — in other words, at-bats that didn’t result in home runs — per batter.

Phipps finished the competition in third place, hitting one home run. “So I didn’t win,” he said, “but I did alright.” New Mexico Military Institute’s Gavin Maloney won it with four homers, followed by Hope Christian’s Aidan McNichol in second place with two.

Phipps played in the first baseball game, which the South won 4-3. He didn’t play in the second game, which his team lost 1-0 with just one hit. He played in the finale, with his team winning 17-2. He went 0 for 2 in the first game, and 1-for-1 with a two-run double and two walks in the third.

The baseball games weren’t super serious, but they weren’t exactly lackadaisical, either. “Exactly what you would expect from an all-star game — a lot of kids going out to try to showcase their skills for the most part,” Phipps said. “When you have kids doing that then the level of competition’s high.

“The kids were up there to have fun, so a lot of good games were played.”

Basketball was a bit more intense. From players to fans, the basketball all-star game was taken quite seriously.

“That one was really competitive,” Phipps said. “It was played at Albuquerque High School, the gym was packed. The players were smack-talking, being really physical, playing tough defense ... the whole nine yards.”

And Phipps’ South team lost that hotly-contested game by two points.

Baseball-wise, Phipps had the pleasure of playing once again with two of his state-championship teammates — pitcher Ben Crist and outfielder Brayden Wines. Together, they had successfully forged their way through 3A state-tournament brackets every year since 2016, topping off the three-season run with last month’s state-championship victory over Estancia at Albuquerque’s Isotopes Park.

The trio was back in Albuquerque over the weekend, right down the road from Isotopes Park, competing as teammates one last time.

“Oh, it was so awesome,” Phipps said. “I love those guys. I wish we had a lot more to go. ... I just hope that through the years I stay in touch with those guys. They only made that weekend more fun. Memory of a lifetime.”

Phipps and Crist will continue their baseball careers — Phipps at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas; Crist at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas — while Wines serves in the Army.

Phipps will study Education, hoping to one day teach and coach, pay forward what has helped him become a solid student and athlete. And he’ll have a chance to quickly make his impact at the collegiate level.

“I’ll be competing for a spot immediately,” he said.

Let the raking continue.


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